Chicago Bulls: Life in a transitional period

Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

In the middle of a rebuild, the Chicago Bulls have found themselves in an interesting spot. As the rebuild marches on, the young Bulls squad needs to mature.

The Bulls fired coach Fred Hoiberg on Monday after just winning five games,according to a report from Bleacher Report. Hoiberg did not have control of his team, according to the reports. However, the team’s executive vice president for basketball operations, John Paxson said courtesy of ESPN that the record had nothing to do with Hoiberg’s firing.

“What we’re lacking is an energy and a spirit about our team, and we need to get that back,” Paxson said. “It’s not as simple as saying we would have gotten that with healthy, healthy players. It wasn’t going to be that simple.”

According to Darnell Mayberry of the Athletic, “multiple league sources said Hoiberg had lost the team, saying players no longer believed in his system and became increasingly emboldened in undermining Hoiberg’s authority.”

A week before the firing, Zach Lavine basically ignored Hoiberg’s play call in the final seconds in a 108-107 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on November 26. Another revealing part of the tensions came from the report in which Lavine could do whatever he wanted per a team source. “Internally, there was concern players would revolt more as the season marched on.”

One of the issues that the Bulls have dealt with this season are injuries. Bobby Portis, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen being injured to start the season put the team at a major disadvantage with talent. For the Bulls to win more games, they need those three on the court and the lack of scoring is showing in the first two months of the season. Through 25 games, the Bulls are averaging 102.8 points a game, which is second worst in the entire NBA. On the defensive end of the court, the Bulls are in the bottom 10 in points allowed, giving up over 112 points per game.

It’s easy to understand why the Bulls have won just five games this season. When you give up almost 10 more points a game than you score, the pressure is on the current roster to outscore opponents on most nights. That gap is too big for the Bulls to win even 30 games in a season. Yes, the game features more scoring, but if the points allowed number goes down even by one, that will likely mean a few more wins. Conversely, if the points allowed number is 113 or 114, that will mean the same result despite the firing. It’s likely that most if not all teams will average 100 or more points all season, but if the Bulls can make teams work harder to score, the gap mentioned earlier should close.

The Bulls have had moments where the effort has been lacking and has been inconsistent. Also, there have been too many games where they have had to play comeback and when you are facing high scoring teams and you are down by 15 after the first quarter, it becomes very difficult to close that gap. The key to winning games in today’s NBA is to get ahead in the first quarter or be within striking distance.